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Funneling cash to hide an affair? Trump, Edwards scandals have similarities

August 25, 2018

Nearly a decade before President Donald Trump worked to deflect accusations of funneling cash to hide an affair, a similar story surfaced involving a North Carolina politician.

Consider the parallels of Donald Trump and John Edwards. Two then-presidential candidates caught up in accusations of adultery and payoffs. Their cases share salacious plot lines, but there are also key differences.

“The affair angle, there’s money,” said Meredith College Political Science Professor David McLennan. “You have a politician who’s trying to protect himself from embarrassment on the campaign trail.”

During the 2008 campaign, Edwards, North Carolina’s Democratic presidential hopeful, had an affair with Rielle Hunter. She became pregnant, but wealthy donors paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep it a secret.

Now, the current president’s former attorney Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to funneling cash to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. “We’re in a different kind of ethical place than we were 10 years ago,” McLennan said. “The National Enquirer tracked down John Edwards and really blew the cover off the Rielle Hunter affair. Now, we have the National Enquirer sort of being a player in the Trump situation.”

After apparently killing stories about Trump, the Enquirer’s publisher has been granted immunity to talk about reported hush money payments.

In 2010, charges of campaign finance conspiracy ended in a mistrial for Edwards. So far, there have been no charges, only accusations for Trump.

With all the scandal similarities, McLennan sees one glaring difference.

“It’s a career ender for John Edwards. It’s just another day in politics for Donald Trump,” he said.

Edwards returned to practicing law in the Triangle. The United States attorney who initiated the charges against him was George Holding, who is now a Republican congressman.

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